Uber to launch in Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama next month

Uber's NSW general manager Henry Greenacre ... the ridesharing company will launch in the Illawarra next month.
Uber's NSW general manager Henry Greenacre ... the ridesharing company will launch in the Illawarra next month.

Uber has announced plans to launch in Wollongong next month.

The UberX ridesharing service will begin on March 16, with the intervening period used to get drivers through the government accreditation scheme.

The Wollongong area has appeared on the Uber app for months now, which the company said was a method to gauge the interest in the region.

“We’ve seen more than 50,000 Uber customers open the app in Wollongong to look for a ride, so we know there is strong demand for ridesharing in the region,” Uber’s NSW general manager Henry Greenacre said.

The service will cover Wollongong and Kiama but drivers are free to take riders out of the area if requested.

As an example of the cost of a ride, an Uber spokesman said a trip from Wollongong station to North Wollongong Beach would cost between $9-$11.

“Ridesharing will also offer hundreds of Wollongong locals the opportunity to earn some extra money with the flexibility and dignity that comes with being their own boss,” Mr Greenacre said.

An Uber spokesman said more than 4000 Illawarra residents had expressed an interest in driving, though that figure was expected to drop to several hundred as people realise the regulatory hoops they will need to jump through.

All UberX drivers need government accreditation, which includes a driving history and criminal check as well as a vehicle inspection by a third party.

Also, any car accepted to the UberX platform needs to be nine years old or less and have four doors.

Taxi drivers have long complained that there were not enough customers for them, let alone them and a rideshare company.

Uber is the second rideshare provider in the region – Go Buggy started in August last year.

A Uber spokesman said they would complement existing services and expected a lot of the demand for ridesharing would come on Friday and Saturday nights.